Can You Eat Expired Eggs? According to Nutritionists

by Ella

Eggs are a staple food in many households worldwide, prized for their versatility and nutrition. Whether you’re whipping up a fluffy omelet for breakfast or using them as a binding agent in baking, eggs play a crucial role in countless culinary creations. However, like all perishable goods, eggs come with an expiration date. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the nuances of egg freshness, the meaning of those cryptic date codes on egg cartons, and whether you can safely eat eggs after they’ve passed their expiration date. Let’s crack the case on expired eggs and find out if they’re still fit for consumption.

Egg Freshness

Before delving into the safety of consuming expired eggs, it’s essential to grasp the concept of egg freshness. Eggs, when laid by a chicken, are typically coated with a natural protective layer called the bloom or cuticle. This outer layer shields the egg from external contaminants and helps maintain its freshness.


Over time, eggs naturally lose some of their freshness due to several factors:


Age: The longer an egg sits, the less fresh it becomes. As eggs age, they undergo subtle changes in composition, which can affect their texture, flavor, and culinary performance.


Air Exposure: Eggs are porous, meaning they can absorb odors and flavors from their surroundings. Prolonged exposure to strong-smelling substances can impact the taste of the egg.


Temperature: Storing eggs at improper temperatures can accelerate their deterioration. Refrigeration at the right temperature is crucial for preserving egg freshness.

Moisture Loss: Eggs can lose moisture through their porous shells over time, which can lead to changes in texture and cooking properties.

See Also: White Eggs vs. Brown Eggs: What’s the Difference?

Egg Grades

To assess egg freshness, producers often use various methods, including candling (holding an egg up to a light to examine its contents) and measuring air cell size. Eggs are typically graded and classified into different categories based on their quality and freshness. The most common classifications include Grade AA, Grade A, and Grade B.

Grade AA: These eggs have a thick, firm white, a high, round yolk, and a clean, unbroken shell. They are the freshest and often considered the highest quality.

Grade A: Grade A eggs are also of high quality but may have slightly less perfect appearances than Grade AA eggs. They are still suitable for most culinary uses.

Grade B: These eggs may have minor imperfections and are often used for commercial purposes like baking or processing into egg products.

Cracking the Date Code

Egg cartons often display a “sell-by” or “use-by” date, which is meant to guide consumers on the egg’s freshness. However, these dates can be a source of confusion, as they don’t necessarily indicate that the eggs are unsafe to eat after that date.

Sell-By Date: This date is primarily for retailers to help manage their inventory. It suggests when the store should stop selling the eggs to ensure that consumers have a reasonable amount of time to use them while they are still at their best quality.

Use-By or Best-By Date: Similar to the sell-by date, the use-by or best-by date is an estimate of when the eggs are at their peak quality. It is a suggestion for consumers to enjoy the best taste and texture.

Neither of these dates is a strict indicator of safety. Eggs can remain safe to eat for a considerable time beyond the date printed on the carton, provided they have been properly handled and stored.

How Long Do Eggs Last?

The shelf life of eggs can vary depending on how they are stored and their initial freshness. Proper storage plays a significant role in extending the life of your eggs. Here are some guidelines for egg storage:

Refrigeration: Store eggs in their original carton in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower. The carton helps protect the eggs from absorbing strong odors and flavors.

Avoid Temperature Fluctuations: Keep the temperature in your fridge stable. Fluctuations can lead to condensation on the eggs, which can promote bacterial growth.

Store in the Original Carton: The carton helps prevent moisture loss and protects the eggs from picking up odors and flavors from other foods in the fridge.

Do the Float Test: If you’re unsure about the freshness of an egg, you can perform a simple float test. Fill a bowl with water and gently place the egg in it. Fresh eggs will sink and lay flat on the bottom. Eggs that are a bit older but still safe to eat will stand upright on the bottom. Eggs that have gone bad will float to the surface.

How Long Eggs Typically Remain Safe to Eat

Now, let’s delve into how long eggs typically remain safe to eat:

Fresh Eggs: Grade AA and Grade A eggs are usually at their best within three to five weeks of the packing date if stored properly. They can often remain safe for consumption for several weeks beyond that.

Store-Bought Eggs: Eggs purchased from the store may have been packaged and shipped several days to weeks before reaching the retail shelf. This means that even if you use them after the “sell-by” date, they could still be perfectly safe to eat.

Farm-Fresh Eggs: Eggs from local farmers or backyard hens may not have a “sell-by” date. However, they are typically very fresh, and their shelf life can be similar to or even longer than store-bought eggs when stored correctly.

Can You Eat Expired Eggs?

Now, let’s address the burning question: can you eat eggs after they have expired? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It depends on various factors, including the egg’s initial freshness, how it has been stored, and whether it has shown any signs of spoilage.

Check for Signs of Spoilage: Before using an egg that’s past its recommended date, examine it closely. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s best to discard the egg:

  • Foul or unusual odor: Fresh eggs should have a neutral or slightly eggy smell. If it smells rotten or sulfuric, discard it.
  • Changes in appearance: Look for any mold, unusual color changes, or cloudy egg whites.
  • Off-putting texture: If the egg white or yolk is unusually thick, slimy, or has an off texture, it’s a sign of spoilage.
  • Cracked or leaking shells: Eggs with visible cracks or leaks should be discarded.
  • Perform a Float Test: If the egg appears normal but you’re still unsure, perform the float test mentioned earlier. If the egg floats to the surface, it’s best not to use it. If it sinks and lies flat on the bottom, it should be safe to eat.

Consider the Risk: Eating an egg past its date is generally safe if it passes the sensory tests mentioned above. However, if you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or have dietary restrictions, it’s advisable to be more cautious and follow the date guidelines more strictly.

Use Heat to Ensure Safety: If you’re concerned about the freshness of an egg but it passes the sensory tests, using the egg in a thoroughly cooked dish like a baked casserole or a fully cooked omelet can further reduce any potential risks.

Trust Your Judgment: Ultimately, trust your senses and judgment when deciding whether to eat an egg that has passed its date. If you have any doubts about its safety, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

Handling Fresh Eggs for Extended Storage

If you’re concerned about the shelf life of your eggs and want to extend it, there are some additional steps you can take:

Refrigeration: Ensure your eggs are always stored in the refrigerator at the recommended temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower.

Original Carton: Keep your eggs in their original carton, which helps protect them from moisture loss and external odors.

Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes: Keep the temperature in your fridge stable to prevent condensation on the eggs.

Egg Refrigeration: While eggs are usually stored in the refrigerator, it’s important to note that some countries don’t refrigerate eggs as a common practice. In such cases, eggs are often processed differently and may have a longer shelf life outside the fridge. However, if you live in a region where refrigeration is the norm, it’s advisable to follow that practice for safety reasons.

The Risk of Salmonella

One of the primary concerns when dealing with eggs, whether fresh or past their date, is the risk of Salmonella contamination. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, resulting in symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. Eggs are a known source of Salmonella, and consuming undercooked or contaminated eggs can pose a health risk.

To reduce the risk of Salmonella infection, follow these precautions:

Cook Eggs Thoroughly: Ensure that eggs, especially dishes like scrambled eggs or omelets, are cooked until both the white and yolk are fully set.

Avoid Raw or Undercooked Eggs: Refrain from consuming foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or uncooked cookie dough.

Use Pasteurized Eggs: If you have concerns about food safety, consider using pasteurized eggs in recipes that require raw or partially cooked eggs. Pasteurization involves heating the eggs to a specific temperature to kill any potential harmful bacteria while retaining the egg’s properties.

Practice Good Food Hygiene: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly after handling eggs to prevent cross-contamination.

Discard Cracked Eggs: If you find an egg with a cracked shell, discard it to avoid potential contamination.

See Also: All About Eggs & Their Function in Baking


In the quest to answer the question, “Can you eat expired eggs?” it’s clear that the answer is nuanced. Eggs do come with recommended dates, but those dates are primarily related to quality rather than safety. Eggs can often remain safe to eat for a considerable time beyond their “sell-by” or “use-by” dates if they have been stored properly and show no signs of spoilage.

Trust your senses and judgment when assessing the freshness of an egg. If it smells foul, looks off, or has an unusual texture, it’s best to discard it. The float test can also help determine an egg’s freshness.

Remember that eggs are a known source of Salmonella, so always practice good food safety measures, especially when dealing with raw or undercooked eggs. Cooking eggs thoroughly is a key step in reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

In the world of eggs, freshness is key to culinary perfection. Whether you’re whipping up a delicate soufflé, a creamy custard, or a simple scrambled egg breakfast, knowing the ins and outs of egg freshness can help you achieve the best results. So, the next time you’re contemplating whether to use that egg that’s a few days past its date, trust your instincts, and savor your culinary creations with confidence. After all, when it comes to eggs, freshness is indeed a cracking good quality, but safety should always come first.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023